Improved professional skills thanks to virtual reality in Uganda

Stories

In remote areas of Uganda, the limited number of businesses is often an obstacle to the introduction of work-based training. In order to meet this challenge, Enabel, the Belgian development agency, has decided to use virtual reality (VR) in technical and vocational education training.

Context

Various Ugandan employers have expressed concern about the quality of the skills of graduates of technical and vocational institutes, arguing that they lack the basic knowledge required in a working environment.

In response to these concerns, in 2012 the Ugandan government launched a 10-year strategic plan for education and training for business, technical and vocational purposes, entitled "Skilling Uganda" - It aims to establish a comprehensive system of skills development for employment, increased productivity and growth. The main objective of the strategy is to create qualifications and skills that are relevant to the labour market.

Belgium supports the implementation of this strategy through its Support to Skilling Uganda (SSU) project.

The solution

The main aim of the Skilling Uganda programme is to bridge the gap between the worlds of training and work through initiatives such as work-based training, which allows student interns to experience the reality of the private sector, in order to learn and develop skills in a professional environment. In this sense, Skilling Uganda aims to align training with the needs of the labour market.

However, in remote areas, such as the Karamoja agro-pastoral region in north-western Uganda or refugee camps in northern Uganda, the limited number of businesses is considered a major obstacle to the introduction of work-based training. Faced with this challenge, Enabel has decided to use virtual reality (VR) in student training.

To familiarise students with the reality of the labour market, Enabel has produced short VR clips entitled "How to do it," and uploaded them to YouTube with the hashtags #VRSkillsChannel and #SkilllingUganda, which virtually immerse spectators in real work environments.

Utilisation de la réalité virtuelle en Ouganda

Through this experience, spectators have the impression of being physically present where the video is taking place. It gives them an idea of what actually happens in a first-class workshop. The spectator is literally transported into the street-front garage of a well-known car brand, or into the kitchen of a five-star hotel.

Who is it aimed at?

Our development agency works closely with Ugandan companies (champions of industry) to produce these clips. As such, the bottom-up production of the clips makes it possible to establish public-private partnerships between training organisations and companies, while offering greater visibility to local champions (product placement).

The interns in need of skills upgrading, or anyone interested in acquiring specific skills, can access the “How to do it" VR clips of their choice, anywhere and anytime. All they have to do is filter the hashtags, which are an integral part of the "Ugandan Virtual Learning Environment".

Intended for use in classrooms without access to electricity, in remote areas such as refugee camps, the clips can be downloaded and saved on multiple devices.

The result

In June 2017, a pilot project introduced VR technology to provide ICT support for the training of mechanics in charge of hand pumps in refugee camps in northern Uganda. The guiding principle of this VR pilot clip was simplicity.

In practice, only four digital tools were used to conduct this virtual experiment with a budget of less than €1000: a 360° camera, a smartphone, a virtual reality application and a virtual reality headset.

See a selection of the clips:

To view the other available clips, click here.

Resources

Partners

  • Enabel, Belgian Development Agency
  • Ministry of Education in Uganda